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  • Cosmic insignificance...

    3 fév. 2007, 7h25m par -Reaper-

    Man has pondered about the cosmos ever since he could look up and understand that there is more out there. Philosophers have struggled with with our very existence for millennia, at best coming up with Descartes' claim of "Cogito ergo sum", 'I think, therefore I am'. But in reality all of it doesn't matter. We as humans might understand how we operate, but we will never comprehend the cosmos.

    However, let me illustrate a point, because a picture says a thousand words. You have to view the whole image.

    Remember you have to read this slowly and absorb each step back..


    We start off with our nearest members of stars, only 33 within 12.5 light years.



    We zoom away a little more and we can see within 250 light years, although we're still on the edge of the galactic tail.



    At 5000 light year view, we see that our order of stars was just shading on the tail of the galaxy.



    This is our galaxy, but wait, I'm not done.



    We zoom out even further and 500,000 light years we see that our Galaxy has s few globular galaxy clusters floating around it, drawing them into through gravity.



    This Galaxy system (containing a Galaxy and galaxy clusters} is only one of 3 in our tiny corner of 5 million light years.



    However as we zoom away, we can see that we're only one of many galaxies within the Virgo Supercluster. The Supercluster contains the Virgo Cluster and 2 other clusters. We're only in a lone group of 3 galaxies somewhere cast on the side of the cluster, hanging on to its tail.



    This amazingly huge Virgo Supercluster is but a bump on an endless intertwining of galactic filament that's the texture of the Universe. Connecting like yarn thread to other superclusters.



    WHICH, is but an amazingly tiny portion of yarn on a scale of 14 billion light years. Everything is intertwined and composed of endless possibilities and compositions.



    And where did we start? At a portion so insignificant that you can't even locate without retracing your steps. And you live there.

    We are extremely insignificant beings in a place that is infinite. We will never understand IT, but at least we can realize that we are nothing in comparison.
  • Our journey through the Universe. Part 1: The Solar System and Oort Cloud

    29 jan. 2007, 17h06m par -Reaper-

    This will be a journal of several parts appearing weekly until we are finished with our journey. Distance will be explained when needed, such as AUs, and given as rounded and [exact]. Imagination is required, psychedelic trance music is recommended.

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    Let's begin by imagining ourselves as giants, titans of the skies if you will. In fact we are so large that the Sun is as big as a basketball to us. Our journey begins here.

    The Sun


    This is our star, without it life on Earth would be impossible. It is a fairly small star, as there are many more that are more massive, more luminous and larger. However we don’t need much more, in fact if it were smaller or bigger we would not be here.

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    1 light second
    As we start walking we put one foot forward. The speed of light is measured as 300 million meters per second [299,792,458 meters/sec]. However, due to our size this is only 5.1 cm away from the basketball. One light second is several times smaller than our foot.

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    1 light minute
    We get to 3.1 meters and have passed the distance known as 1 light minute. We have not reached Earth just yet; we haven’t even reached the nearest planet, Mercury. Did you think that it was much closer? Most of our Solar System, not to mention the Galaxy and Universe is empty space.

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    1 AU, The Earth
    We keep walking and get to a distance known as 1 Astronomical Unit [AU]. This is the distance between the Sun and the Earth, it is 145.6 million km [145,597,870.691 km] away, however because we are so huge this is only 25.7 meters from the basketball. We glance at the Earth, and it's very difficult to find because it is only 7mm in circumference, or the size BB gun ammunition known as BBs. We can't stop and chat with the tiny inhabitants because we wouldn't even be able to see them. The Moon is about 2mm away from the Earth and from our point of view, basically touching it.

    The Earth


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    Jupiter
    We move on because we have to explore most of the Solar System and beyond. We start walking again, this time it'll be a short trip. About 134 meters from the basketball we encounter Jupiter, it lies about 5 AU from the Sun. It is the 5th planet from the Sun and the largest of all. However to us it only appears as big as a strawberry sized ball of gas. It's moon's are tiny strawberry seeds circling the planet.



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    1 light hour
    We keep walking a little further and at about 7 AU or about 1 billion km we get the distance of 1 light hour. Light took 1 hour to travel here, but we made it here relatively fast. This is only 185 meters away from the basketball. It is very difficult to see the basketball from here, it appears as a tiny blur from where we are standing. We need to start jogging at this point.

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    Neptune
    We jog for a while stopping at 771 meters to see if we can find Neptune. Neptune is about as small as a paintball so we have to search carefully. It is the last planet in the Solar System but we are not finished yet. (Also listen to Neptune Towers since we are here.)



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    Pluto
    Once we jogged a little more we get to a place called Pluto's Aphelion, or the farthest Pluto can be away from the Sun. This is 49 AU or 7.4 billion km from the Sun, but for us it was a nice jog of 1,265 meters. If you're good you got here in about 9-10 minutes. Light however took about 7 hours to get here [6h 50m 3s]. Don't bother looking for Pluto however, it is far too small. Only about 1 mm in circumference or the size of the dot at the end of this sentence.



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    Sedna's Aphelion
    We are finished with our jog now but we get into a car, because our next destination is Sedna's Aphelion. Sedna is the farthest planetoid observed in the Solar System. It makes its closest approach only 25 AU away from Pluto's Aphelion, but where we are traveling to its Aphelion which is 975 AU. However we do have a car and the trip will be much easier. We drive until we are 25 km away from the basketball!
    Even at such a size it is still that far for us to travel, however our journey has just begun and we are nowhere near our destination.


    We want to travel to the farthest point in its orbit, it'll be a quick drive but we have to take a pit stop once we get there because we're boarding our airplane.

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    Entering the Oort Cloud
    We get to Sedna's aphelion and board the plane. We travel until we are 1249 km away from our point of origin. We start to enter the Oort Cloud at ~50,000 AU.
    It's going to be a bumpy ride because the Oort cloud is basically a huge cloud of material that’s left over from the creation of our Solar System.
    We are enclosed within a cloud of comets, rock and other debris. The plane's not going to get damaged due to our size, as the comets are smaller than dots in a sentence, but there might be some turbulence due to the amount of material here. It'll be more of a swim than a flight.



    The red line is Sedna's orbit.

    Oort Cloud


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    1 light year
    Once we are inside this Oort Cloud we travel 374 more km, or 1623 km away from our point of origin to the distance of 1 light year. It is defined as 9.46 trillion kilometers [9,460,730,472,580.8 km] or 63,241 AU.
    Light has taken 1 full year to travel to this point, but we have made it here within a matter of hours. We have to continue on and get out of this Cloud, the turbulence might be getting us sick.

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    Exiting the Oort Cloud
    We travel on a bit more to a distance of 2565 km or 1.6 light years or 100,000 AUs and finally exit the Oort Cloud. There are still a few remaining comets here and there, but for the most part it is clear again and we can see the sky. We look ahead and notice that the stars aren't as close as we thought they would be. In fact we can't even make out the closest star. We continue to travel in our airplane, but our adventures to the stars will have to wait for another week. Our journey has just begun...